Dental Anxiety and Phobia: How to Get Over Dental Phobia

phobia

Toothaches and other dental problems can be quite painful if not treated speedily. To add-on, if you require emergency dental care - due to knocked-out teeth or abscessed teeth - but are not able to visit the dentist due to irrational fear, then it can have a negative impact not only on your dental health but also general health.

For many of us, the poor old dentist is right up there with spiders and snakes when it comes to the things we fear the most. The fear of dentists is a common phenomenon among kids and adults alike. Why are some of us so scared of the dentist’s chair? And what are dentists doing to make that twice-a-year trip a little easier?

Well, here is a quick overview of what dental phobia (dentist phobia)

means, dental phobia treatment options as well as the most frequently asked questions about dental anxiety and phobia!

What is Dental Phobia?

Dental phobia is defined as the severe and irrational fear of dental treatment. It’s estimated that around 75% of us experience some degree of anxiety when visiting the dentist. Although only 5% may be classified as having an extreme dental phobia, the problem raises serious health concerns.

Dental/dentist phobia can cause the sufferer to frantically avoid dental treatment. It can lead to panic attacks, severe anxiety, and serious oral health problems, which create further anxiety and require more invasive treatment. The phobia is more common in children and women, and I generally find that sufferers had a bad experience at the dentist’s in the past – often when they were children. There’s usually nothing else wrong with them, other than an overwhelming aversion to all things related to dental care.

Of course, the chair-side manner of the dentist, and the physical environment of the dental practice, play a big role in aggravating or alleviating fears. Those all-too-familiar sights, sounds and smells of the dental clinic can trigger bad memories. Just as a favourite piece of music can trigger happy memories, the sound of the drill can take us back to the dreaded dentist from childhood.

It’s in the interests of both patient and dentist to have relaxed dental and medical care that helps solve toothache issues and other problems. By doing this, even if an individual is scared of the dentist but needs treatment, he/she wouldn’t hesitate to visit the clinic for proper dental care treatment.

Dental Fear vs Dental Phobia

Fears and phobias are often discussed interchangeably. However, the two states of mind have some marked differences.

  • Fear is a strong dislike that can cause avoidance. Though it is not necessarily thought about until the thing you fear presents itself. Dental fear and anxiety (DFA) refer to the negative feelings shared by children and adults that are associated with dental treatment. DFA is indicative of a state of misgiving that something appalling is going to take place concerning dental treatment.
  • On the other hand, a severe dental phobia is an extremely stronger form of fear. A phobia is an unreasonable and ludicrous reaction. Suffering from dental phobia makes a person experience a deep sense of dread or panic whenever they encounter anything related to dentistry. The fear can be of the place, situation, or even an object. Another thing about the phobia, in actuality, it's not likely to cause you any harm. However, the person can't help feeling this way.

In other words, being fearful could mean that a person dislikes going to the dentist and puts off their appointments until necessary. The sound of the instruments used during different procedures could be scary, but the person puts up with it.

Whereas, dentophobia presents a person with such fear that even a mere mention or thought of the dentist can cause anxiety leading to avoiding the dentist altogether. This can cause nightmares and panic attacks. The root cause for fear of the dentist and dentophobia may be similar. However, a legitimate phobia of the dentist is more extreme.

Causes of Dental Phobia

  • Fear of the dentist can be caused by negative experiences that occurred in the past. Such feelings could be stuck with a grown-up person from their childhood.
  • An indirect road to dental fear is through gaining information and becoming bias towards the dental environment from negative implications advertised by the media or dental phobic family &
  • It is also possible to experience fear of a dentist because of the concerns a person may have about their oral health. Not having visited the dentist in several months for small reasons like a toothache could result in something big, and they are afraid of receiving bad news.

Any of these concerns could cause a person to avoid going to the dentist. So, how are we, at Oris Dental, making life easier for anxious patients suffering from dental phobia? How do we help with curing dental phobia? Here’s how!

How to Get Over Dental Phobia: Dental Phobia Treatments

Individuals with dental anxiety often experience excessive sweating, low blood pressure, visible distress, palpitations, signs of panic or fainting, etc. Some can experience withdrawal or use aggression or humour to hide their anxiety. Patients suffering from dental phobia are known to miss or cancel their dental appointments, irrespective of whether it is a routine dental check-up or a complex procedure.

Mentioned-below is a few possible dental phobia treatments that are used by most dentists and dental clinic.

  • Improvements in oral hygiene and preventive dentistry mean we’re also much less likely to require extensive dental procedures. Technical advances like the dental laser are putting an end to tools of terror like the needle and drill. Advances in anaesthetics make treatment much less discomforting.
  • In some cases, oral sedatives are given to relax the patient. These are potent drugs that calm you down, thereby alleviating dental anxiety/phobia at least for the period of the treatment. I’ve seen this work wonders, helping to calm extremely anxious patients who couldn’t sit through a treatment.
  • Sedation dentistry is another effective dental phobia treatment. Here, sedatives or muscle relaxation medications are administered, which helps you to deeply relax. In sedation dentistry (also known as sleep dentistry), patients are in a comfortable place hovering between awake and asleep. But, responsive to the dentist’s instructions.
  • Explaining the entire dentistry procedure in a calming way is another technique employed. This helps reduce nervousness and anxiety, enabling the patient to overcome the fear of the dentist or the unknown.
  • Some dentists also make use of laughing gas. This helps calm and soothe the patient suffering from dental anxiety.
  • General anaesthesia is sometimes used to treat d
  • To diminish dental fear, behavioural and relaxation techniques are also recommended including deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, muscle relaxation, etc.

#Dental Phobia: Tips to Stay Calm

Your dental health affects you in many ways. If dental anxiety and phobia are preventing you from seeing a dentist, it is a real problem. Without proper dental care, teeth can develop cavities and infections that can spread to the rest of the body. Thus, here are some tips that can help you stay calm (alleviate your fears) during the appointment.

  • Visit the dentist at a less hectic time of the day, such as morning hours. There will be lesser people and also fewer tools making noises that could trigger anxiety. Also, visiting the dentist later during the day can cause anxiety to build up in anticipation.
  • Carry along noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds with music to help you loosen up.
  • Ask a friend or a loved one that you trust to accompany you during your appointment. Their mere presence might calm you.
  • Practice deep breathing and other meditation techniques to help you remain peaceful and calm.

Also, know that it is OK to take a break at any given point in time during the visit.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

How common is dental phobia?

According to statistics, approx one in six Australian adults and about one in ten children have high dental fear. There is a high prevalence of dental fear among middle-aged women, as high as one in three individuals. Also, about 5% of the Australian population have dental fear, which has impacted their life significantly.

How can I get over my fear of the dentist?

From medication to behavioural techniques to relaxation techniques, there are several ways to get over your fear of the dentist. By identifying the root cause of it - traumatic dental experience, trust issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, fear of losing control, or any other past traumatic experiences - you’d be able to begin your journey of overcoming this irrational fear, or it may help you reduce the fear to manageable levels. Sometimes anxiety associated with other conditions like OCD

(obsessive-compulsive disorder), claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces), etc can also cause dental anxiety and phobia. Thus, identify the cause, which will help you to seek out the right guidance and possible treatment for dental phobia.

Can the dentist give you something for anxiety?

Most dentists prescribe mild sedatives or anxiety mediations that help calm nervous patients before the treatment commence. These calming pills or muscle relaxation medications are strictly supervised and only a single, small dose is given before a dental procedure. Only medication prescribed by your dentist or doctor must be taken. And, it is best that someone accompanies you to the dental clinic or drives you there if you have taken medication before the appointment.

Why you shouldn't be afraid of the dentist?

When it comes to oral health, your dentist knows the best. A professional dentist wouldn’t recommend any treatment if not required. He will take care that the entire dentistry procedure is as comfortable as possible. If you are afraid or anxious about a dental procedure, it is best to talk to your dentist, and together you’ll be able to deal with any problems much more effectively. Lastly, with the advance in technology, many dental procedures cause minimal to no discomfort. Also, most dental clinics offer a friendly environment, which helps alleviate fear to a greater extent after the first appointment.

Need Dental Care Services Around Sunshine Coast?

If you or your children experience dental phobia or anxiety, please don’t be afraid to tell us. It’s your right as a patient and our job as dentists to know. Dental phobia is a problem we take as seriously as tooth decay or gum disease. And yes, it can be treated and prevented. To book an appointment call us on (07) 5444 4308 & 1300 70 60 90 or use the contact form below to get in touch with us.

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10/7 Nicklin Way

Minyama QLD 4575, Australia

Opening Hours

Mon - Fri: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Book Appointment

(07) 5444 4308 & 1300 70 60 90

Send Us An Email

dentist@orisdental.com.au

Adarsh (Principal Dentist)

Adarsh

Adarsh (A-Dash) is the principal dentist at Oris Dental. Adarsh graduated as a dentist in 1996 from the University of Mumbai (Bombay, India). He entered private practice as an assistant dentist in one of the leading practices in Mumbai from 1996-2002. The practice offered all aspects of dentistry with the exception of Orthodontics. This prompted Adarsh to pursue a post graduate degree in Orthodontics and successfully completed the 3 year Full time the master’s program from University of Mumbai (Bombay, India) in 2005. Since then, Adarsh has been in private practice both as a general dentist and an orthodontist. He also served as teaching faculty at University in Mumbai for 3 yrs and when in India, he has been ‘the dentist’ to many dentists!! In 2008, Adarsh took the Australian Dental Council exam for direct recognition of his skill in Australia. He successfully completed the exams in the first attempt and moved to Australia early 2009. He has been in private practice in Australia since Jan 2009. Oris Dental was set up in Minyama in 2011. Oris Dental is now over 8 years old and is growing to be a well-respected practice in the area. He is particularly interested in Cosmetic dentistry Dental implants and Orthodontics. Adarsh hopes to use all the experience he has gained in the past 22 years, to offer the best in dentistry to all his patients in this practice. Adarsh believes in spreading smiles and has successfully designed smiles and in doing so improved the lives and self-confidence of many Sunshine Coast locals (Take a look at our Smile gallery!). Adarsh is an active member of the Australian Dental Association since 2009 He held the post of Senior Lecturer in Orthodontics in Mumbai University before moving to Australia. He is a Life member of the Indian Dental Association, serving as the General Secretary of the Association (Mumbai City Chapter) 2007-2009 He is Life member of the Indian Orthodontic Society. He is Candidate for Membership Examination MRACDS (Ortho) and plans to complete his membership exams soon. Adarsh is also currently pursuing his Diploma in Implant dentistry at the Royal College of Surgeons(Edinburgh). Adarsh has recently complete intensive training in implant placement and restoration in Neoss and TRI (Swiss) Implant system. He is married to Prachi for 15yrs and they have a 11 yr old son – Aarjav, a little daughter Aria who has just started prep and Daisy the mad Lab pup! He is currently learning to play Tennis and Badminton and loves watching the cricket!

Prachi (Owner/ Dentist)

Prachi

Prachi is the director, part time dentist at Oris Dental. Prachi graduated in 2002 from Nair hospital dental college, Mumbai (Bombay, India), one of the leading dental schools in Asia. She then worked in multiple private practices across Mumbai (Bombay, India). While working as a dentist in various practices she picked up the positives from them and implemented them into this practice at Oris Dental. She is very friendly by nature and is particularly good at handling children, preventive dentistry and hygiene. Prachi moved to Australia in 2009. Prachi has there on completed her Australian Dental council exams successfully in early 2011 and is now ready to bring in her 12 years of experience to Oris Dental. Prachi also serves as a part time dentist at the Oral Health Services Sunshine Coast in Caloundra Kawana and Nambour as needed.

Davina (Dentist)

Davina

Davina has been a part of our family since 2014. After completing her bachelor’s degree from the University of Queensland, Davina has been in private practice in an around the Sunshine coast for a year before joining us full time. Davina shows exemplary skills in building a great relationship and rapport with her patients and is well regarded by her peers. Davina is very highly regarded by her current patients. Davina currently works 3 days a week.

Lise Slack (Dental Hygienist)

Lise Stack

Our dental hygienist Lise Slack is a trained member of the dental team who works together with your dentist in preventing gum diseases and dental decay.

Lise joined OrisDental in 2015 and has worked extensively in private specialist practices. She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 1982 and has had specific training and exposure to an extensive range of periodontal conditions and treatment modalities.

Lise’s dad was a professor in dentistry and this is where her love of teeth comes from. She has invented two specialist oral care products which are available in Australia and several international countries. Lise has also lectured at international dental conferences on the maintenance of dental implants and how to help patients care for their teeth once they have contracted periodontitis.

Both adults and children can benefit from having an appointment with a dental hygienist as they are taught how dental diseases occur and how it can be prevented or managed.

Lise is married to Sam and they have two daughters. They value their family time and love adventurous outdoor sports.

Jesse (Dental Assistant)

Jesse (Dental Assistant)

Jess has been a part of Oris Dental from the outset in 2011. Always cheerful and welcoming Jess is the star amongst our patients at our practice. If you cannot find Jess in the practice she will be at the beach!

 

Kaela (Receptionist)

Debra (Receptionist)

Kaela arrived at our practice in early 2021. Coming from eight years of retail experience in Northern NSW, she loves working with people and assisting in any way she can. Kaela has also just finished her training as a dental assistant. You will immediately fall in love with her happy, bubbly personality.

Abby (Sr. Dental Assistant)

Abby (Dental Assistant)

Abby is originally from Hervey Bay, but she has been calling the Sunshine Coast home with her husband and two kids for the past four and a half years. Abby completed her cert III in dental assisting in 2015 and is looking to further her studies In the near future. Abby enjoys camping, playing guitar, and travelling
the world with her family.

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    Dr. Param Dass

    Dr. Param Dass

    Param Dass graduated with a Bachelor in Dentistry from the University of Otago, NZ in 2005. He went on to complete his Bachelor in Medicine from the University of Auckland NZ in 2010.

    Param started working part time in our practice since 2015 with special interest in surgical procedures including Dental implants and bone grafting procedures, Surgical extractions including Wisdom teeth and other minor surgical procedures.

    Param is well known for being gentle and caring in treating patients with dental anxiety and maintains a calm demeanour.

    He is also well trained in working with patients with various levels of anxiety, offering dental treatment under Happy Gas, Twilight sedation or under Full general anaesthetic.

    Dr. Brayden Fracchia

    Dr. Brayden Fracchia

    Brayden hails from North Queensland, having completed his Bachelor of Dental Surgery at JCU Cairns, practicing in Hobart and outreach dentistry from Mount Isa over the course of his studies. He has worked with us since 2020. Brayden enjoys becoming a part of a community and enjoys the outdoors and sport in his spare
    time. Having only recently moved to the beautiful Sunshine Coast, Brayden is enthusiastic and well versed in all aspects of basic general dentistry and looks forward to bringing North Queensland hospitality to the South East.

    Briar

    Briar

    Briar stated off as a trainee dental assistant in our practice mid-2020. She is the youngest member of our practice and is rapidly becoming an integral part of team Oris. Briar completed her Certificate 3 in our practice in 2021 and works full time Dental assistant at Oris Dental.

    Drew

    Drew

    Drew is Oris Dental’ newest member, who has only recently moved from his hometown of Rockhampton. He is our Oral Health Therapist, who specializes in oral health education, general check-ups, fillings and more!
    He loves a good chat and a laugh at work. He prioritizes patient’s comfort and likes to encourage an environment where everyone feels a sense of security and safety in the dental setting. When Drew isn’t at work you’ll find him having a refreshing swim at the beach or having his usual dirty chai at his local cafe.

    Jasmine

    Jasmine

    Jasmine joined our practice in November 2021 and works with our Oral Health Therapist Drew. Jasmine is new to dental assistance, however is quickly taking on any and all challenges that come her way! She loves animals, and spending quality time with her husband and two kids. Welcome to the team!

    Brooke

    Brooke

    Brooke is originally from Brisbane but has been living on the coast since 2017. She brings over 15 years of experience in the dental industry and has had the opportunity to work in London and Melbourne for the Royal Flying Doctors. Brooke enjoys surfing, scuba diving and exploring the many things that the Sunny Coast has to offer.